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Islamic Cairo: Oops! I don't think I was supposed to see that head. . .or take a picture of it!

Cairo Travel Blog

 › entry 18 of 30 › view all entries
Citadel.
What's more heartbreaking then watching the guards pee on the Egyptian monuments?  Seeing the blocks from the outer two layers of the Great Pyramid in the wall of the Citadel.  The Arabs took the outer two layers of the Great Pyramid to build their little fort.  Hate to say it - but put it back!!  The Great Pyramid stood for thousands of years before the outer two layers were taken for building blocks.  Go find your own building material!  Okay, off the soap box and back to travelling fun!  

The Citadel is a large fortress that was home to Egypt's rulers for about 700 years.  They began building the Citadel in 176 AD to fortify the city against invaders.  Mohammed Ali built a Turkish style mosque in the Citadel and he chose to be buried here.
Islamic Cairo.
  This mosque is pretty, but looks rather plain compared to the Haghia Sophia or the Blue Mosque (both located in Turkey).    The view from the Citadel was amazing and we could just make out the outline of the Pyramids at the Giza plateau through all the smog.

On a strang side note, near the Citadel is the Police Museum.  Yes, the Egyptians have a few odd museums - the Police Museum and the Museum for Things People Tried to Steal from Egypt.  Yep, you heard right.  A whole museum devoted to the objects people tried to sneak out of the country.  They have quite an extensive collection.  Anyway, back to the Police Museum.  This museum is devoted to everything from riots, to assassination plots, to the tourist and antiquities police.
The giant, pretty box that contains the head of some important religious figure. Al-Houssein.


My friends and I also visited a few interesting mosques.  Members of modern Egypt's royal family, including Ismail and King Farouk, are buried inside Ar-Rifai.  Also, the last Shan of Iran is buried there.  Ibn Tulun was another interesting mosque.  It is Iraqi in style and it is the first structure to use the pointed arch.  We had a little misshap at Al-Azhar which turned out to be Al-Houssein.  We thought the mosque was Al-Azhar.  So we walked over to the women's entrance, took off our shoes, covered our hair and walked in. No one stopped us, we got a few strange looks, but no resistance to us entering the mosque.  Everyone was praying around a giant, prettily decorated box.  So, I snapped a few discrete illegal photos and we left.  Turns out we were in the wrong mosque.  No foreigner, even if they are a muslim, is allowed inside Al-Houssein.  Now there is NO WAY someone could mistake us for a local.  Oops, their mistake and our luck.  What was inside the giant box that I definitely was not supposed to be taking pictures of?  Some famous religious leaders head.  So cool!!
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Citadel.
Citadel.
Islamic Cairo.
Islamic Cairo.
The giant, pretty box that contain…
The giant, pretty box that contai…
Muhammad Ali mosque.
Muhammad Ali mosque.
Muhammad Ali mosque.
Muhammad Ali mosque.
Muhammad Ali mosque.
Muhammad Ali mosque.
Muhammad Ali mosque.
Muhammad Ali mosque.
Muhammad Ali mosque.
Muhammad Ali mosque.
If you look way off in the distanc…
If you look way off in the distan…
Bab Zouwaila
Bab Zouwaila
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Hassan
Hassan
Hassan.
Hassan.
Hassan.
Hassan.
Hassan.
Hassan.
Al-Houssein
Al-Houssein
Al-Houssein.
Al-Houssein.
Al-Houssein.
Al-Houssein.
Rifai.
Rifai.
Rifai.
Rifai.
Rifai.
Rifai.
Rifai.
Rifai.
Rifai.
Rifai.
Rifai.
Rifai.
Rifai.
Rifai.
Rifai.
Rifai.
Rifai.
Rifai.
Tulun.
Tulun.
Tulun.
Tulun.
Tulun.
Tulun.
Cairo
photo by: vulindlela